- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sen. Ted Cruz says reports that the GOP can’t block witnesses in the impeachment trial are not accurate, saying they’re not actually certain what would happen.

“The votes are up in the air; it’s not clear where the votes are,” he said Tuesday on the latest version of his podcast, “The Verdict.”

He was reacting to reporting that said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow GOP senators in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that they don’t have the votes to head off witnesses, meaning Democrats’ motion to extend the impeachment trial will win.

SEE ALSO: GOP reportedly lacks votes to block witness testimony in impeachment trial

Mr. Cruz said that was “overstated,” and said the moderate Republicans who are likely to decide the matter were silent during the meeting.

“That is a close question. I don’t know where the votes are,” Mr. Cruz said.

He said from where he sits, the answer is obvious: No new witnesses.

The House already heard from 17 witnesses, and he said there’s no impeachment case.

“Listen, I think as a constitutional matter, as a legal matter, this is very easy decision,” said Mr. Cruz, a Harvard-trained lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court before winning his Senate seat. “The House managers haven’t proven their case. They have the burden of proof. They have the burden to prove the president committed high crimes or misdemeanors. They haven’t done that.”

Senate GOP leaders called Tuesday’s meeting to take the temperature of lawmakers after House Democrats and President Trump’s team both finished a week of laying out their arguments.

A major topic of conversation is former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, who reportedly has written in a new book that Mr. Trump did explicitly tie Ukraine’s aid to investigating his political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and his son for corruption.

Democrats say those reports should spur the Senate to demand to hear from Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Cruz said he warned colleagues that Democrats are looking to delay and string out the trial, using the same playbook from Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, while hoping more dirt emerges.

He said he and fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah found it funny being in the room Tuesday where party leaders were trying to convince the moderates to line up. Usually in those kinds of meetings, the conservatives are the targets.

“Mike and I are used to be being the bad guys,” Mr. Cruz said. He called being on the other side “Nice, although a little terrifying.”

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